Darrin Horn has nabbed his first target for the 2009-2010 season: Lakeem Jackson, a 6'5" All-State swingman from Christ School in Arden, North Carolina.
In Jackson, Horn is getting an all-around dynamic player. From his natural wing spot, Jackson attacks the hoop but is also capable of knocking down the three-ball. Jackson’s 205-pound frame allows him to overpower most guards, and his athleticism is off the charts.
Versatility is key to Jackson’s game as well, as he can also play the point, and another year of high school ball will allow him to work on his handle. If this kid can improve even more on his shot and ball handling before next year, he could be a very special part of the Gamecock movement immediately.
Most importantly, from Horn’s perspective, is that Jackson is a tough defender, something Horn’s teams take great pride in. Jackson’s thick frame and impressive vertical make him an excellent rebounding guard, and he can muscle smaller players on the perimeter and take on bigger players in the post.
Jackson will get a chance to shine for South Carolina fans when Christ School comes to Columbia in December for the Chick-fil-A Classic, a tournament featuring premier teams from around the nation.
Gamecock fans will no doubt be impressed with what they see from Jackson, whose powerful dunks are on display each game.
Despite offers from Clemson, Marquette, Georgia Tech, and several others, Jackson chose South Carolina mainly because of his comfort level with Horn, who actually offered Jackson when he was head coach at Western Kentucky. As Jackson says, "I have a great relationship with Coach Horn. I like his style. I like to run."
While Jackson is from Charlotte, he chose to attend Christ School—an all-boys boarding school just south of Asheville—primarily for the reputation the school has earned as somewhat of a basketball powerhouse over the last four to five years, despite the fact that the school only enrolls roughly 200 students per year.
In 2007, swingman Malik Cooke signed to play for Nevada. While Cooke played limited minutes his freshman year, he should see an expanded role in his sophomore season.
Most recently, though, Christ School has produced its most sought after prospects. Brothers Miles and Mason Plumlee, both towering forwards who can handle the ball and shoot, have agreed to play for Coach K at Duke.
While Miles originally signed with Trent Johnson’s Stanford team, he had second thoughts after Johnson left, and when Taylor King transferred from Duke at season’s end, a spot opened for the elder Plumlee this season.
Meanwhile, little brother Mason, who got offers from nearly every major program in the nation, will play out his final season at Christ School and then join his brother in Raleigh-Durham in 2009.
And the Plumlee pipeline doesn’t stop there, as the youngest brother, Marshall, a sophomore, already stands 6'8" and shows the same skills as his brothers. Chances are he will be getting looks from coaches across the nation as well.
Finally, another Christ School player on this year’s team, guard Dee Giger, is close to making his official commitment to a smaller level D-I school.
If you are keeping count at home, that gives the small boarding school of 200 kids three Division I athletes on the same team. Not bad.
And then, of course, there is Jackson, who many consider to be the glue to Christ School’s team.
The common denominator of all these players—and certainly what makes them so attractive to college coaches—is that they all own at least one state championship ring.
This season will be especially poignant for Jackson, as the state championship games will be played in his hometown of Charlotte—a short drive from Columbia, SC.
As Christ School attempts to capture its third title in a row, with Lakeem Jackson leading the way, something tells me Darrin Horn will be in attendance.